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How to Keep Toxic Negativity from Infecting Your Team

Toxic negativity is contagious. Here's how to keep it from spreading in your workplace.

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By Aytekin Tank • Dec 30, 2020 Originally published Dec 15, 2020

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"Happiness is contagious" may be the sort of cheesy adage you're used to seeing splashed across coffee mugs and refrigerator magnets; a trite phrase your eyes pass over without really seeing. But it's also true. Studies have found that emotions quite literally travel in patterns in a way that's analogous to epidemiological models of disease.

The bad news is that while happiness may be catching, negativity is even more so. Researchers Christine Porath and Christine Pearson report that victims of others' bad attitudes are more likely to adopt bad attitudes themselves, thereby perpetuating the trend. Rudeness also has a tendency to transfer from bosses to employees, so much so that one in four people are rude because their bosses are. "Employees notice what seems to be working then they follow that lead, for better or worse," they explained in the Harvard Business Review.

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